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To power continued social and economic development, energy demand in ASEAN countries is set to increase over the coming decades. Meeting this demand, particularly for electricity, will remain a primary concern. Doing so sustainably, while ensuring the affordability and reliability of supply should shape ASEAN countries’ transition to more sustainable energy sources. As we look to the future, the priority must be to hardwire sustainability considerations into new infrastructure development, to dramatically increase the share of clean energy in the energy mix, and to ultimately replace fossil fuel power plants with greener alternatives.

Innovative technologies should propel this transition. They are supporting cleaner energy generation, more efficient power transmission, growing regional energy interconnection and electric vehicles. All hold great promise for a more sustainable future. But their deployment must be accompanied with greater stakeholder consultation to more effectively overcome technical, financial and regulatory barriers to transboundary power trade.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provide the broader framework within which ASEAN countries’ energy challenges and climate action measures must be taken. The ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2016-2025 does so by identifying opportunities to shape the cleaner energy development within the region. Pursued intelligently, it should also support the ambition of Global Energy Interconnection: regional clean energy development and interconnection.

This joint research project on power grid interconnection has identified practical measures to substantially increase the penetration of clean energy across ASEAN countries. Its analysis provides firm foundations for achieving regional energy interconnection which also promotes sustainable transboundary power trade. It is the product of a close collaboration between the ASEAN Centre for Energy, the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific: a partnership committed to strengthening sustainable energy interconnection across ASEAN and beyond.